Monday, May 30, 2016

Coffee shops and interviews

Coffee shops are now being used as locations for interviews. The interviews are fine if they are done correctly but it should mean that the table or tables are only used if the people have also purchased a coffee or something from the location.

At one coffee shop we walked in and were looking for a table and there were five tables taken up with people just sitting without having purchased anything. If they had been only sitting for a few minutes that would have been one thing but it ended up that they were sitting there for at least half an hour taking up seats that paying customers wanted. Finally the person doing the interview showed up and got all of them around one table freeing up the rest of the tables.

Yes, coffee shops are a wonderful place to do interviews if they are done correctly. What they shouldn’t be used for is a free meeting stop and taking the tables from the actual customers. If you are going to be using a coffee shop for any type of meeting or work space ensure that you are also purchasing something from the store. If you are going to be sitting for a couple of hours also make sure that you spend money and maybe even buy that second cup of coffee to show that you appreciate the time you are using the table.

What is really interesting is sitting and watching interviews take place. In one case there were three people applying for the position or positions and they were all sitting together filling out the applications. As each of them finished filling out the application the hiring person starting asking them the interview questions. This can also be a distraction for the rest of the people filling out the applications.

If you are the person conducting the interviews you should insure that you are on time because that also doesn’t look good for the candidates. As the hiring person you have just shown the potential staff that you don’t respect their time. I know that in one case I actually heard one of the potential candidates phone the hiring person to see what had happened and if they were still going to show up for conducting the interview. This shows that they were actually late and hadn’t even tried to contact the potential candidates to let them know they were running late.

If you are going to conduct interviews make sure that you are not taking up the space from paying customers especially if no one has purchased anything from the store.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hotel Etiquette

When you are staying at a hotel no matter what the size there are things that you should consider.

The guest
  • You are not the only guest.
  • When you are in the halls remember there are other guests maybe trying to sleep so keep your voice down.
  • If you are with a large group be considerate of other guests because they want to enjoy the facilities the same as you do.
  • Try and respect guest services as they could be dealing with lots of issues not just your issue.
  • Housekeeping is there for everyone, if you are only staying a couple of nights do you really need your bed made and new towels each morning?
  • Try and close your room door quietly because there banging does carry a distance.
  • Try and leave your room when you leave in some order. Yes housekeeping needs to clean the room but they don't need to find a total mess after you leave.

  • Please don't bang room doors when you are cleaning the rooms. I want to enjoy my room and the banging of you entering and exiting rooms near me doesn't help me relax.
  • Ensure your cleaning cart is kept to the side of the halls guests need to get around as well. Not everyone is checking out on the same day or at the same time.
  • If you are talking to your co-workers remember to keep your voice down. Don't complain about guests where guests may hear you and ensure you do not swear in the public areas as you probably will be heard.

Hotel etiquette is very important both from the guest and the staff perspective. You will be so surprised that as a guest if you are friendly to the staff, they will help you out if you have an issue. If you have been rude or pushy with staff you may not the service that others will receive. As hotel staff you need to remember that you are the person a guest is dealing with and you represent the entire chain for that given period of time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Art shows

I was able to participate in an Art Show and saw some good and bad points about some of them.

Good Points:
  • Good exposure for my art and able to show people where it is available.
  • Ability to sell work to people that understand the actual things you have done. (Science fiction artists with science fiction fans work well).
  • Get feedback on the pieces of work that up for display (this can be positive and negative).

Bad Points:
  • Lack of organization by the organizers for when the artists are setting up can lead to major confusion for everyone.
  • Some organizers may promote one artist over other artists when they should be neutral especially when there is no feature artist.
  • Too many display boards and tables can make the art show look extremely small.
  • Displays that are not visible from outside a door can mean people don’t enter to see the work.
  • Messy desk where people are to register as a bidder could result in people not feeling like it is worth the time or effort.
  • Organizers not providing the artists with what they were promised and adding stress to the artist when they are trying to set up their work.

An art show can really help new artists, it’s a means of showing some of their work to an ideal group of fans. If the Art Show is well organized and promoted it can actually assist the artist in getting more attention then they would have if didn’t do the show.

An art show that isn’t well run can mean a lot of frustration for the artist because they will feel uncomfortable with having their work shown in that environment. The work may not get the attention that the artist was hoping for. If the art show does make an effort of talking up only one artist is can mean that they are preventing people from looking at some of the other art that they might have purchased.

An art show when run well can really assist an artist by giving them the place to showcase their work. If an art show isn’t run well it can make the artist feel that doing this type of show isn’t what they should be doing and they will look for other means of showing off their work. Making sure that you are prepared for both type of art shows is very important otherwise it can greatly impact you as an artist if the art show doesn’t work out as well as you hoped.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Model stitching

I recently had the opportunity to see if I could get someone to be a model stitcher for me to help with the stitching of the various cross-stitch designs that I have been producing. Now, this person said that they could help me out with a project so I figured that it was worth a try to see if it would end up working out.

Before I outline the role of a model stitcher I will make sure that terms are understood. (wikipedia definitions)

Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, pattern are used to form a picture.

Needlepoint is a form of counted thread embroidery in which yarn is stitched through a stiff open weave canvas. Most needlepoint designs completely cover the canvas. Although needlepoint may be worked in a variety of stitches, many needlepoint designs use only a simple tent stitch and rely upon colour changes in the yarn to construct the pattern.

Tent stitch is a small, diagonal needlepoint stitch that crosses over the intersection of one horizontal and one vertical thread of needlepoint canvas forming a slanted stitch at a 45-degree angle. It is also known as Needlepoint stitch and is one of the most basic and versatile stitches used in Needlepoint and other Canvas work embroidery. When worked on fine weave canvas over a single warp and weft thread it is known as Petit point in contrast to stitches, such as Gobelin, worked over multiple warp and/or weft threads.

The patterns that I have been designing are based on cross-stitch so that means I want all the stitches to be complete “X” and all the x’s to be crossed in the same direction. Yes, this is what basic cross-stitch is and what I have been doing my designing for. When the person said that they could do the pattern for me I was very happy because it meant that I would be able to focus on some more designing and preparing for an Art Show that I was getting ready for.

Some guidelines for model stitching:
  • Communicate with the designer.
  • Use fabric and floss supplied and if need to change talk to designer.
  • Ensure communication is good, if you promise pictures, ensure you do that.
  • Pictures need to be close up and not with a lot of empty areas and must be in focus.
  • If issues are discovered in the design while stitching talk to the designer before proceeding or before making any changes.
  • The designer has final decision in any changes not the stitcher when it comes to model stitching.
  • If full crosses are to be done don’t change to a half cross because it is easier.
  • If model is cancelled don’t continue and think designer will be happy.
  • Know the deadlines, if you cannot meet the deadline then communication is key.

Now the guidelines are something that are very important and the one thing you will notice is communication is repeated a number of times through the list of guidelines. Communication is vital to ensure that the piece is going to be what the designer originally had in mind (this could be catching problems, better colour ideas, or otherwise refining the design on the go). In a lot of cases, as a model stitcher, you will be the first person to actually start to see the piece come alive on a different media than the pattern was designed on. Communication between the model stitcher and designer is something that cannot be forgotten as the designer needs to see the work as it processes to ensure that it is still working.

Pictures are a wonderful method of communicating progress with a designer. Sending pictures of the work as it is being completed helps to ensure that everything is going as originally planned and designed. When you are taking pictures of the work, ensure that the completed stitches are in focus and that the area stitched is the main part of the picture. A designer doesn’t care about the rest of the fabric with nothing on it they just want to see the area that has been completed in each of the progress pictures.

If you happen to have the opportunity to show the designer in person the actual piece in progress, that is even better, but ensure the designer is prepared to see the piece. If they ask to see it again later that same day it means that I want to ensure that they have the time to actually sit and look at it as you may have caught them without their glasses or in poor lighting. Follow through with the promise to show them the work as they are original designer of the piece and want to ensure that it continues to meet their expectations.

As a designer it is something hard to see something in your mind and then know that it is going to turn out just like you expect it to turn out. I have had to make changes on patterns as I have been stitching them as I haven’t like a colour in a certain area. As a designer that is something that we are always dealing with as the piece is first being stitching. The model stitcher is sometimes being that person that will see something odd and show it to the designer to get the verification of it is what the designer wanted or if there is a problem.

So the outcome of my first experience with a model stitcher wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The design was for an Art Show that I was attending, so it was something that I wanted to ensure was up to a level that I wanted to have on display. I ended up telling the stitcher that the piece wasn’t turning out as I wanted, "so please stop doing it for me". I said they could keep the piece and finish it for themselves as I knew they liked the design. This meant for me to have the piece in the Art Show, it would mean some quick stitching on my part to have it ready but I did get it completed in time for the show and am happy that I was able to have it hanging on my wall at the show.

I am now looking for someone to do some model stitching for me or at least to test to be a model stitcher for me. What I learned through this experience is just because someone says they will do it for you, you may be disappointed in what happens. Communication is one of the key things that must be part of the role of the model stitcher and designer. If the designer starts asking questions about an update it is probably because they haven’t heard from the stitcher for a while. It is better to send too many pictures and emails then not enough. If you see the designer and you haven’t been able to send them an update but you have a picture on your mobile device let the designer see the design but letting the designer hold the device themselves.

The designing that I have been doing is still ongoing and I am now sitting with a number of designs ready to be stitched and I am juggling the stitching and designing now. It would be wonderful to have someone that I could send some designs to for them to stitch but until I can find someone that I trust to follow my instructions I will be doing my model stitching.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Finding the right balance

Everyone that works has to find the right balance between work and personal life.

With the use of mobile devices now, there seems to be more demand on the work life even when you are away from the office. In some cases, I think demand is because even friends and family have a quick way of finding you when you are away from home or even at home. The use of texting, email and other social medic connections means we aren’t really away from work very often.

Years ago when someone had a mobile device, is was normally for work and now everyone seems to have at least one device to keep them connected 24 hours a day. It is always interesting to see some of the younger people using the mobile devices to connect with friends and family. The mobile device does mean that a parent can get a hold of their child a lot easier now compared to before. A simple text or call can immediately get a confirmation of location or even when they will be getting home.

Being able to balance all the demands on our time is very important. One thing that is really needed is some time where the mobile device isn’t the first thing you reach for. In a lot of cases taking a vacation and leaving the mobile device at home or at least off would be wonderful but what about all those pictures that you are taking during your vacation, doesn’t everyone need to see them immediately. These are the balances that I am talking about. You don’t need to show everyone what you are doing all the time. If you are on vacation, enjoy the vacation and then post some pictures upon your return.

If you are away on vacation don’t broadcast to all your friends and family that you are away from home. You are letting too many people know that your home is empty and you aren’t going to be home that night either. In so many cases if a friend or family member makes a comment about your vacation picture you are then communicating with their friends and family that you away.

A balance between work and personal time is also important as those emails that appear after hours need to be evaluated. Do you need to immediately answer them or can they wait until you are back in the office? The emails after hours really depends on your job because there are some people that need to reply at any hour due to their job. IT people are quite often those people because an email from work is normally about an issue that may need immediate attention and can’t wait until tomorrow to be handled.

Making sure that you can find the balance between work and personal life is very important. If you have a job that you are also doing something that you love to do and is also a hobby then you are lucky in a lot of ways. There is the drawback that then you really don’t have a break from work because your downtime is also doing the same thing. Knowing to take the breaks from work is very important because your family and friends are also important and need to know you are around.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Volume consideration

There are times that people should really think of other people around them.

In the office environment what needs to be considered is how loud you talk and who else is around you. It is amazing how some people can talk at a high volume all the time but when you talk a little louder on occasion they give you the dirty look. If you are going to get upset with someone else about the volume they are talking, you first need to ensure that you are being considerate of others.

What is amazing is where we have our executive office. There is one group that have more than one office and they find it fine to talk between offices and out in the hall. It is sometimes extremely noisy around them because they are doing business in areas that shouldn't be used for work. Also I think they figure because they are a bigger tenant they have different rights than the rest of us.

There is one of their staff that gets upset when two of us say hello between two offices. It is funny because she is one of the ones that makes a lot of noise on a regular basis. She has actually closed her door with some force when we have been just saying hello. What is so funny about this is she stands outside of her office area and talks to one of the other people that sits a couple of offices down the hall and doesn't think that is wrong.

Now, if you want to complain about someone else, you have to make sure that you aren't the one that is too loud on a regular basis. What has happened is since this group finds that it is ok to talk loud between offices is that some of the others have decided that it is fine for them so it should be fine for the rest of us.

In the executive office environment a lot of us are there and want to get work done. If I wanted a lot of noise, I would be working in the coffee shops instead of paying rent for an office where I am trying to focus. Remember, the volume of your conversation needs to be that so that others around you are not impacted otherwise there is a problem. If you need to talk to someone else that you work with please get up and go into their office to have the conversation because I don't care if you are going for lunch or anything like that. I want to get my work done so that I can enjoy some time out of the office.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Being me

Have you ever had someone tell you that you shouldn't be who you are?

That is something that I think all of us have had happen to us. Maybe we aren't what the other person expected or they want us to be like them. Being yourself is very important because everyone is different and have their own goals and what makes them happy.

Being me, is very important because that is what makes me happy and what keeps me going each day. I am not saying just thinking of yourself, I am saying that we need to ensure that we are happy as well. If I were to change to make someone else happy then I wouldn't be true to myself and I would just be trying to make that other person happy. Of course, you can be a blend of things but knowing that you are doing what makes you happy is important as well. There are times that you may not be happy with everything you do because there are things you need to do to make others happy but you do need to ensure that you put yourself at least someone in the middle of the batch of people and not always at the bottom.

There were times that I thought that making everyone else happy was what was important. This meant that I put everyone else ahead of me no matter what. I would give up things that I wanted to do or even things I wanted to ensure that someone else was happy. What I discovered that the only way to make others happy is to make sure that I am happy as well. There are people that no matter what you do will not be happy with what you do.

I have now found the blend of making sure that I am happy and I can also make others happy as well. This blend means that I am making sure that I do things that make me happy and sometimes someone else is going to have to wait just a bit before I can do something for them.

Being me is very important because now I am happy and I know that I am making others happy as well and the balance is correct.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Creativ Festival

I have been going to the Creativ Festival in Toronto since it started. Well, ok I missed the first year but have been going every year since and have gone to most of the Spring shows since they started having them as well. It means I have been goings for around 28 or 29 years now.

The Spring Creativ Festival is not as big a show and it doesn’t offer the classes that the Fall Creativ Festival has. The spring show normally means that I can spend a bit of time walking through the event show floor and see some friends that I sometimes only see at these events. The spring show also has been at the International Centre which is further than going downtown where the fall show has been held. The fall show has been at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for quite a few years and it is very easy to get to for people that transit either by TTC or GO transit. It also has a hotel attached to it and quite a few other hotels and many food options within a short walking distance from it.

The Fall Creativ Festival was an event that I did enjoy attending because when it offered classes it meant that I got the opportunity to learn a lot of different things. I have taken lots of cross-stitch and needlepoint classes as well as knitting and crocheting classes. I have tried some scrap booking, spinning, quilting and jewellery making as well because I wanted to try these various things. The classes that were offered gave me a chance to actually try out of the different crafts to see if I enjoyed the various crafts.

The Spring Creativ Festival does offer a few hands on quick 45 minute sessions but you really don’t get the opportunity to learn like you did at the Fall Creativ Festival. I always enjoyed the classes at the fall show as they varied in length from 1 hour to 6 hours and were also for various skill levels.

I went to the Spring Creativ Festival this year and walked around the show. It is a show that I can normally do in under 2 hours and that has been normal for the last few years. This year I actually completed the show in around an hour and a few of the booths that I wanted to see weren’t there so that meant I didn’t spend much money at the show. Sure I picked up a kit for a shawl but other than that I walked out of the show disappointed because the things I wanted to pick up weren’t there this year like they have been in the previous years.

Over the last few years I haven’t been taking as many classes at the fall show as there weren’t as many classes that interested me. Maybe after 15+ years of classes it was time for me to take a break from attending as many as I was taking. There were years that I would have 30+ hours of classes in just over 4 days which left minimum time for any shopping on the show floor. Last year I actually didn’t take any classes and I really didn’t miss that. Maybe I have needed the break from classes and also there weren't the classes that caught my attention after they got rid of the instructors I loved.

This year the Fall Creativ Festival is going to be up at the Toronto International Centre which means there aren’t the hotels within a quick walking distance from the show. Sure, parking is free at the International Centre but there have been a lot of people that have come into Toronto to attend the show and have stayed at the hotel. I am not sure how the show is going to work this year because it is going to be harder for people that live out the east of the city to get to the show.

I estimated that for me to get across the city during rush hour would take around 2 hours using public transit. I didn’t figure it out on the Saturday until writing this entry and it actually is a bit shorter at 1.5 hours each way which is still more than double what it takes to get to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I don’t live at the outskirts of the city either so I am wondering how long it would take other people to make this trip. I have determined that I doubt I'll be taking classes if classes are offered because it just really isn’t worth my time.

At least I know that the cost of taking all of the classes that I have in the past isn’t going to be part of this fall. I have learned a lot through taking all the classes that I have in the past. The friendships that I have made will last a lot longer than the classes did and I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful instructors along the way as well. Some of the instructors are now friends and that makes me very happy.

I will go to the Fall Creativ Festival to look around the show floor but I doubt I'll be taking any classes if classes are offered this year. I liked the idea of the show being in two different locations because it meant that different people benefited from the locations. Now if you live out the west end of the city and drive you are the lucky ones for both of the shows. For the ones that have travelled to Toronto to attend the show and for us that live out in the east end of the city we aren’t so lucky. I hope the Creativ Festival does well but I am aware that there are a few people that have also said they won’t be taking classes if any are offered as it is too hard to get to the show where it is going to be this fall.

Monday, May 2, 2016


For a lot of people when you say that you craft you will get an interesting look. In some ways it is fun to see the reactions that you get when people realize that you do crafts besides the type of work that you do.

There have been times when people have realized that I craft that I get this very odd look which is hard to explain. Some people say “I don’t like like someone that would craft” and my immediate reaction is “I didn’t think people looked a certain way to craft”. I think what people are trying to say is that considering the type of work that I do they are surprised that I also spend my free time doing something creative. Actually for me being able to write is another means of being creative because it lets me think things through differently so that I can ensure that people will understand what they are reading.

For me, my crafts are a way to relax at the end of the day. It also gives me a chance to do some of the thinking that I need to do. I use my crafting in the evenings as a way of thinking through some of the challenges that I have been dealing with throughout the day. I don’t know how many times that in the middle of crafting that I have come up with the solution to a problem that I have been dealing with earlier in the day. In some cases I have actually put down the crafting and gone back to the task I was dealing with earlier in the day to see if the solution I came up with will really work. If I can’t get back to the task I will at least document the solution that I have thought up so that I can try it out when I am back at the specific task.

Crafting for me is a means of stitching my mind back together at the end of the day. It helps me tie up all the loose ends on the things that I have been dealing with. Crafting is also a means of relaxation for me and it is something that is important. Relaxing helps everyone deal with the rest of life a lot easier so having some time for yourself at the end of the day is important.

Crafting is also a method for me to show a different side of me. I have been able to spend some time even using my crafting as a means of communicating some of who I am. Quite a bit of my crocheting and knitting has been given to charity as these two projects are things that I do while sitting and watching television at the end of the day. Being able to have some results of sitting at the end of the day makes me feel so good. The other thing that I spend some of my relaxing time doing is cross-stitch and I have got into some designing and that has been a means of showing my creative side to people. The cross-stitch that I have been doing have been for enjoyment and I have also been able to show them at a couple of Art Shows which is great. The Art Shows that I have been able to participate in are at Science Fiction conventions and I have enjoyed doing them because it helps me focus on some of the designs.

Crafting is a little different for everyone but finding something that you enjoy doing is a good thing. It maybe colouring in an adult colouring book or playing with modelling clay but it is a means of expressing yourself. Crafting isn’t something that I do all day but it is something that I try to put in my schedule most days. An hour a day doesn’t seem very long but at least it gives me the time to relax and enjoy something a little different than what I do on a daily basis for work.